Unpacked
Energy Transforms Matter
The Picture of Light
On the Edge
Wall Monochrome
Liquid Horizon
The Prora Project
Travelling Landscapes
Permanent Daylight
Constructed View
Space Monochrome
The Colors of Black & White
Blow-Up
Ontology
Tautology

 

Photograph
Stills
Installation Views
While I was preparing for the realisation of the film "Das Fenster", I often browsed the internet for relevant webpages. This is how I came across post-War photographs, probably taken by tourists, before the building was blown up in 1952. Maybe the reason they kindled my interest was that in this dark burnt-out locale, where once there was a window, now gaped an enormous rectangular hole, giving a strong radiant focus to this landscape framed in concrete. In this way, it was quite conceivable what Hitler meant when he said that the building was, in fact, constructed around the window. It seemed like the panoramic scenery itself was a picture, a projected image. It was not only suggested by the dark surroundings around the window, but the proportions of the window itself also reinforced the illusion of the movie theatre. It took some careful inspection to discover that the reason the whole frame of the window resembled a movie screen was that its aspect ratio was close to 1.85:1, i.e., the aspect ratio of Cinemascope. Although in Hitler's time, neither the technologies of the widescreen nor the Cinemascope existed, it was almost as if the future of cinema had been forecast. To my even greater astonishment, the proportions of the inner divisions of the window frame, as it may clearly be seen in pre-War pictures, resembled the proportions of the traditional aspect ratio of analogue films, measuring 16 or 35 mm. In comparison to the traditional 3:4 aspect ratio, the only difference here is in the window frame's orientation, which is known as the portrait page, resulting in a ratio of 4:3. The ninety subdivisions of the window were combined into ten greater divisions of the same proportion. It may be interesting to mentioning that the English word "frame" is also used to describe a single picture on a filmstrip, which here may give the impression that the whole of the window was constructed with the single frame ratio of the analogue film.
It is well known that Hitler, like so many other dictators, loved movies. Thus, it may not come as a surprise that beside the movie-like format suggested by the window, a real movie screen was also included in the space. In the post-War pictures on the right side of the window we can clearly see the holes, behind which the hidden projectors were concealed. The great hall may rightfully be called the machinery of a systematically arranged spectacle.
Measuring four by eight metres, the panorama window was the central feature of the room, not only because of its size, but also on account of the impressive view it offered. The window opened directly onto Obersalzberg's famous mountain, the Unterberg. The mystic aura surrounding this mountain dates back to mediaeval times. It conjures up myths about vanishing people, time warps, wonderful mountain dwarves and, according to a legend, even the emperor Charlemagne himself, who was said to be holding out in the mountain, waiting for his last great battle to be fought between good and evil (although the same story has also been told about Friedrich Barbarossa). During his visit, the Dalai Lama gave the mountain the name Sleeping Dragon, and declared it to be a place of worship. According to some accounts, the mountain had a great cave inside, complete with an underground lake, with a depth of one kilometre. It was on account of the mountain that Obersalzberg became the summer residence of Bavarian kings.
Hitler always had a fascination for German mythology and the tales of great German conquerors alike. The mythical German history of the mountain constituted a reference frame for both the location of the Berghof and the windows themselves. He attributed magical powers to the mountain, regarding it as a great resource for ultimate victory. He seized it in the form of a political manifesto, wishing to exercise control and power over the landscape.
The images that I made using pictures found on the internet may be regarded as a series of sketches about the cinematographic and visual meaning of the window. Drawings and notes about my investigations concerning the proportions are mixed with remarks on the notions of a fake obsession with the landscape. Is the question justified about the responsibility of a geographical location, and how historical events are related to the given landscape's idyllic image?